The ninth North Devon AONB Marathon and Half Marathon took place in gruelling conditions yesterday (Sunday).

North Devon Marathon ladies winner Mary Menon of Ilfracombe Running Club. Picture: contributedNorth Devon Marathon ladies winner Mary Menon of Ilfracombe Running Club. Picture: contributed

First place in soaring temperatures at Woolacombe went to Keith MacIntosh of Wimbledon Windmilers with a time of 3:23:58.

Ilfracombe Running Club's Mary Menon continued her dominance of the women's event as she romped home in 3:46:22 to claim her fifth full marathon title in a row.

John Parker of Cheltenham Harriers Running Club conquered the half-marathon route in 1:27:15 seconds.

And it was a double for last year's half-marathon winner, Jane Faram of Bristol's Southville Running Club, who was the first female home clocking 1:38:47.

Men's full marathon winner Keith MacIntosh crosses the line. Picture: ContributedMen's full marathon winner Keith MacIntosh crosses the line. Picture: Contributed

The route, billed as one of the UK's toughest, drew 750 runners from far and wide.

The marathon is expected to raise more then £30,000 for North Devon Hospice.

Race director Simon Oliver said: "As a runner, this is a great way for me to show off our beautiful corner of the world to people who really appreciate the landscape and it's unique contours."

"The fact that we always get runners coming from far afield is very pleasing. It shows that we have got a wonderful event and that North Devon is an attractive destination for runners from across the UK and even internationally.

Men's full marathon winner Keith MacIntosh. Picture: ContributedMen's full marathon winner Keith MacIntosh. Picture: Contributed

"It has become an incredibly important fundraising event for North Devon Hospice and we are so proud of the funds raised because it's a cause close to all our hearts."

Some travelled from Holland, Germany, USA and South Africa, but the prize for furthest-travelled went to Sally Warren from Buninyong in southern Australia.

Sally, who started running as a youngster after losing her sister to a brain tumour, said: "I was keen to travel to my Dad's homeland to take on an overseas marathon and this one caught my attention.

My Dad's sister lives in Devon, and my running coach in Australia also has family in the county," she said.

North Devon AONB Marathon entrants for 2018 assemble overlooking Woolacombe beach. Picture: contributedNorth Devon AONB Marathon entrants for 2018 assemble overlooking Woolacombe beach. Picture: contributed

Sally added: "Running has been a gift to me and by running this very difficult race it's a way of acknowledging struggle and literally running through it.

"With all funds going to North Devon Hospice, my hope is that people going through the same journey my sister went through will be uplifted by the fact a simple 26-year-old Australian is willing to put one foot in front of the other in honour of their struggle."

At the not-so-elite end of the field was Richard Carter, who manages the hospice's lottery. He completed the half-marathon wearing an oversized lottery ball mascot outfit, something which he admitted to regretting almost immediately.

"I wanted to do something crazy to raise some funds for the hospice and also raise awareness of the hospice lottery. But this mascot outfit was not built for running.

Half marathon winner Jane Faran crosses the line. Picture: Contributed Half marathon winner Jane Faran crosses the line. Picture: Contributed

" It was heavy, very hot and ridiculously uncomfortable. I'm really pleased to have raised around £500 so far, and I hope that by seeing the state of me after completing this challenge, that will inspire even more people to donate."

Jess Burford-Redgrove from the hospice's fundraising team, paid tribute to the many people behind the scenes who made this event such a success.

She said: "Thanks must go to all our sponsors, including the headline sponsor Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks, without whom the event would not be possible.

"We're also grateful to our supporters such as The Red Barn, TDK, Eaton, Parker, Parkdean, St John's Garden Centre, Parkin Estates, National Trust, North Devon AONB, Tarka Springs, Biopac and Miles Tea & Coffee.

Men's half marathon winner John Parker. Picture: contributedMen's half marathon winner John Parker. Picture: contributed

"Our army of volunteers were fantastic as always, and of course Simon Oliver has put so much into making today happen. This event is a real team effort behind the scenes so it's nice to see all that hard work pay off."

For the full race results, visit www.northdevonmarathon.co.uk.

To sponsor Richard Carter, visit virginmoneygiving.com/NDHospiceLotteryBall